Re: What is this device called [Telecom]

I remember back in the seventies when I decided to get a QKT coupler for my home phone line for a phone patch for my ham radio station. I was moving into a new place so I asked them to put it in when they came.

The people in the ordering department were clueless on this (even the supervisors). They kept telling me that this was against the telephone company's tariffs and that they wouldn't install it. When I insisted they were wrong, they just passed me to another, and yet another, and yet another person who was equally clueless.

I told them that I was requiring them to install it. Then I got passed to a supervisor who was the one who insisted that this was a violation of the company's tariffs. The whole thing went on for days.

Suddenly I remembered that I had a very knowledgeable ham buddy that worked in the telephone company's marketing department (Chad Burriss, WB4REC, who passed away some years back). I told this supervisor that I wanted her to call him and that he would explain the whole thing to her. At that point she changed her tune. She told me that she did not question what I said (the hell she hadn't) but that they had to check it out. Name dropping seemed to work.

A couple of days later there I received a message saying that they had resolved the issue and would proceed with the installation of my QKT coupler when they came over to install my phones. When I called in to finalize the details, I was once again asked what I wanted it for.

I told her that I had already been through a knock down, drag out fight with the business office over it. I told her that the business office had already admitted they were wrong and agreed to put it in. I asked her if we really had to go through that again.

She said, no (thankfully) and scheduled the installation.

They called me back and told me that they didn't have one in stock. They said they would order it, install my phones for now, and then send someone back over to install the coupler when it arrived. They agreed not to charge me for the second installation visit. A few weeks later, they showed up and installed the coupler on my phone.

I remember reading things where Bell was essentially complaining about people illegally connecting equipment to their lines. I would answer that people wouldn't do that if they didn't have to put up with that kind of abuse when they called in to do it legally (fifty cents per month was the rate for the coupler and I didn't have any problem with paying that).

After type acceptance began, manufacturers started selling phone patches that were type accepted and could be plugged directly into the line. Additionally, there was a move to grandfather all previously manufactured phone patches so they could be used on the PSTN without an interconnection device.

One of the major problems of a totalitarian phone systems is going through things like this. This is why I jumped for joy when the telephone monopoly was broken up. Thank you Carterfone, Hushaphone, MCI, and the rest.

I won't say that it solved all of the problems. But as with any democracy, freedom carries individual responsibilities.

I just wish the current administration realized that.


***** Moderator's Note *****

There have been books written about the hidebound management at Ma Bell, and about the arrogant and intractible attitudes exhibited by many of her employees. I went through the same frustration you experienced when I ordered an interface for a phone patch - and _I_ was working at New England Telephone!

It got done eventually. Elephants are not efficient because they're nimble.

By the way, I hope you'll agree that one of the individual responsibilities which accompanies our freedom is the obligation to respect others' viewpoints, and to accept that not everyone will agree with our own.

Reply to
Fred Atkinson, WB4AEJ
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I'm sorry Mr. Atkinson had trouble, but back then our experience was totally the opposite. We obtained such devices for computer terminals without any trouble. We abandoned the more expensive Bell-leased Teletypes (the kind with the ORG button and built-in automatic modem) for cheaper terminals and modems, and even though Bell would lose revenue, they fully accomodated our needs.

To be fair, we must remember there are also books written about how some pre-divesture customers and businesses tried to get a free ride in blatant violation of the tarriffs in existent in those days, as well as how the pre-divesture Bell System bent over backwards to accomodate customer service needs.

In those days, the Bell System was forced to waste its money servicing repair calls that were the result of bad customer owned equipment, such as improperly wired bootleg extension sets or unauthorized modifications to a business key system. Nobody talks about that side of the issue. Contrary to myth, they did not disconnect the subscriber's service or rein the wrath of the heavens upon the hapless subscriber as critics complained, but merely disconnected the offending device. Even when using their own personally-owned device, customers still expected the Bell System to provide end-to-end responsibility for calls (unlike today).

Good public policy does NOT result from anti-utility attitudes that favor cream-skimming. In pre-divesture days people demanded both rock- bottom rates AND super high levels of service. That is, they expected actual-cost rates on busy corridors like Chicago to St. Louis, but also expected cross-subsidized rates on light volume and expensive corridors such as in the west.

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That's because you knew the right person to call.

The same was the case for anything other than straight POTS... if you knew the radio loop guy for the city, you'd make a call and get a loop installed. If you didn't know the radio loop guy for the city, good luck getting anyone in the business office to figure out what an 8KC loop is or how to get you one.


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